Last Day of National Poetry Month Brings Change for NYC Commuters

by Staff

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced today that it will no longer post poems on New York City subways as part of the Poetry in Motion program launched by the Poetry Society of America (PSA) fifteen years ago. PSA established Poetry in Motion with the MTA in 1992, displaying posters with excerpts of poems by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, Lucille Clifton, and others on subway cars where advertisements would otherwise appear.

Poetry in Motion has since expanded to fourteen cities, including Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and New Orleans, and, according to PSA's estimate, reaches thirteen million commuters everyday. PSA executive director Alice Quinn told the New York Times that the organization would seek a new sponsor for the program.

New York City Transit still plans to feature some poetry on its subways, but only sporadically, and alternating with quotations from works of history, science, philosophy, and literature in general. A new initiative called Train of Thought will present content from a variety of disciplines, changed every three months, selected by Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The program debuts this week with passages by E. B. White and Galileo.

"New Yorkers have wide-ranging interests," said Alicia Martinez, MTA’s director of marketing and corporate communications, in a press release. "We believe this approach will reach a broader and larger audience.”